Brian Baird used to hit the road as a six-term congressman from southwestern Washington, holding hundreds of town meetings, until his last term 2009-10 when Tea Party protesters showed up to disrupt.
"There was a deliberate, focused effort to disrupt the democratic process and prevent dialogue," Baird recalled Tuesday.
Baird, a Democrat, has joined with former Washington Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance in an ambitious bid to take back American politics from political extremes they fear are dominating and polarizing the country.
They are co-chairs of Washington Independents, a political action committee dedicated to electing centrist, independent candidates. It is affiliated with the national Centrist Project, www.centeristproject.org.
Arguing that the country's two major parties have "let America down," Vance argued: "It is time to give voters an alternative -- a movement based on problem solving and common sense, not extreme ideologies.
"Electing just a few independents to office will begin to fundamentally change politics in Washington state."